Is it even possible to overstate the amazingness of beans? Probably not. There’s a reason why beans are a staple of diets around the world, and a staple for vegetarian diets.
With more than 13,000 species of beans, they’re one of the world’s most important sources of calories and one of the healthiest. Packed with fiber and water, beans make you feel full fast and keep you satisfied longer. Just two cups of cooked beans can provide almost the recommended dose of fiber for the entire day, and that fiber is digested slowly so you stay feeling full for hours at a time. Meanwhile they’re low in sugar, so they don’t cause the peaks and valleys in blood sugar that can trigger the feeling of hunger. Instead, they provide a steady source of energy. Beans also pack a hearty dose of antioxidants, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, zinc, folic acid and phosphate.
Additionally, beans are low in fat, so you don’t have the negative consequences for your cholesterol and heart that eating an equivalent amount of meat causes, and they're low in calories so they’re a great food for trimming your waistline. And as for the all-too-common question of protein — yes, beans have tons of protein. And if you eat a serving or two of grains during the same day you eat beans, then your body gets the same protein that you would get if you ate meat, yet you get to skip the negative health and environmental impacts.
What does all this add up to? A decreased risks of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, colon cancer, and an increased health for your liver, bone, intestinal, skin and hair to name just a few. So when it comes to beans, eat up! Here are some of our favorite recipes that feature these magical legumes.
Chili typically takes ages to make, simmering the pot on low heat so all the spices meld together. But if you're itching for a bowl full of Southwestern comfort, you don't have to wait all day. This spicy chili recipe allows you to pull off a hearty chili in a fraction of the time with just a handful of ingredients. It's a great go-to recipe for weeknights.
If you want to spend a little more time on you chili recipe, try this zesty recipe that includes a delicious fried zucchini treat on the side. It's an amazing meal that will fill you right up!
Maybe at heart you can't cheat on the slow-cooked chili. Then we have a recipe for you too. This recipe allows you to spend only about 15 minutes tossing all the ingredients in a crock pot and allowing it to simmer allllllll day. You'll come home to something really special for dinner!
For an Asian-inspired take on a delicious bean dish, this lovely recipe uses tofu, bell peppers, and black bean sauce along with other flavorful and spicy ingredients. It's a way to enjoy beans in a more subtle way.
With beans, it's so simple to just use a crock pot. From soups to stews to flavorful bean dishes, a slow cooker allows you to throw everything in a pot and walk away. That's what you can do with this recipe — onion, carrots, celery, garlic, a few spices ... just toss them all in and at the end of the day, serve up a hot, delicious meal!
Speaking of bean soups, this recipe is a great simple soup for weeknight dinners. It takes just a couple minutes to toss together, heat up and simmer, and serve up. Best of all, leftovers the next day are perfect for reheating for lunch.
Let's switch gears from chili and soups and celebrate some of the lesser known uses of beans, like making bread. Did you know that navy beans can help you make a loaf of fail-proof moist, fluffy bread? Yep! If you'd never tried making bread before — or have tried and failed — I highly suggest trying this recipe. Not only will you totally be able to pull it off, but it's also a more nutritious bread than your standard old white bread because, beans!
Another baked good you don't want to miss out on are these delicious treats. As Melissa Breyer writes for her recipe, "I'm a fool for recipes that swap typically empty calories for ones which have some nutritional integrity — feeling good about eating something delicious instantly multiplies the pleasure factor... And no lingering beany flavor remains, just a delicious, healthier confection."
A hearty side dish, this healthy recipe can take the place of less healthful starches like potatoes or pasta. You get the same amount of comforting goodness but in a more heart-healthy way. The recipe works for a few different types of beans, so grab your favorite kind and cook away!
Ahh, who doesn't love a good black bean soup? This recipe is filled with spicy chili flavor, and is a fantastic Latin-inspired meal. Sprinkle a few corn tortilla chips on the top and, wow! You have a black bean tortilla soup!
Perfect for any meal from breakfast to dinner, this quesadilla recipe is a hit, especially with kids. You can use the leftovers from a slow cooker beans recipe or even the chili recipes listed above as the filler if you wanted an even speedier way to make up this crunchy, savory dish.
If you want something perfectly sweet and savory as a side dish, this is your recipe. This perfectly pairs slowly caramelized onions and simple white beans along with a little bit of herbs to have a ridiculously simple yet utterly flavorful and satisfying casserole.
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